With his second album, Early James offers insight into an unsettled state of mind. Here's Holler's album review of Strange Time To Be Alive.
If his sophomore album is any indication, Early James has plenty of issues he’s working to reconcile.
Indeed, there seems to be no end to his misery, at least based on initial impressions. The slow sprawl of ‘Racing to A Red Light,’ the eerie effect of ‘Straightjacket For Two’ and the dark designs of ‘My Sweet Camelia’ convey a feeling of foreboding and doom. It’s not exactly a promising proposition, but it does pique curiosity while allowing for some obvious intrigue.
Of course, producer Dan Auerbach is no stranger when it comes to atmosphere and ambience. That’s especially evident in ‘Pigsty’, given its casual croon and quiet contemplation. “You’re like a stick of Zebra Stripe that I’m afraid to chew” James declares while venting some tangled emotions.
Sierra Ferrell shares the vocals on the telling ‘Real Low Down Lonesome,’ sharing both the drama and desire of not only the track upon which she features, but the record as a whole. The brutal and brooding ‘Harder to Blame’ underscores James’ misgivings, while the title track finds him simply wailing away with sheer abandon.
Yes, strangeness can be scary, and here, James manages to prove that point. From the casual caress of ‘If Heaven Is a Hotel’, ‘Wasted and Wanting’ and ‘Splenda Daddy’, to the more demonstrative designs of ‘Dance In The Fire’ and ‘Something For Nothing’, James’ offerings run the gamut of weary emotion, testing himself to the point of collapse to find the answers he so dearly desires.
As its title suggests, Strange Time to Be Alive is both ominous and unsettling; it's a reflection of James’ distress and disappointment with a world that has him marginalized to the point of absolute exclusion.
7.5 / 10
Early James' 2022 album, Strange Time to Be Alive, is released August 19th via Easy Eye Sound. You can purchase the record from one of Holler's selected partners below: